To learn how gay parents will be counted in the 2010 Census,
Lisa Zilligen knows what it's like to grow up with a gay parent.
Raised in Oak Park by a single, gay dad, kids taunted her, saying
she would grow up to be just like her dad. The kids' parents were
just as bad.
"I had no friends because of the parents. I couldn't go to
anyone's house or talk to anyone on the phone," she remembers.
"Everyone loved my dad-he volunteered and helped out a lot-but
people felt very uncomfortable about children being around him in a
Lisa Zilligen with her kids, Danielle,
Olivia and Miles.
So when a teacher recently told Zilligen that children had
teased her daughter Danielle about having two moms, Zilligen
reminded Danielle that families come in different packages. "I told
her that, even though we're part of the LGBTQ community, we're
still part of society. We can have children if we want to, whether
it's with another woman or two men. We have to be happy with
ourselves and try not to worry about other people."
Zilligen, who recently split from her partner, is now raising
three children, ages 2, 6 and 8, by herself. She had hoped life
would be easier for her children than it was for her, but history
is repeating itself both in her sexuality and her single-parent
She describes her father as an amazing parent who was open about
being gay and who made parenting a priority. She hopes she can do
the same with her children.
"Straight, gay, male, women, transgender-we're all equal and
good parents. Don't judge someone because of their sexual
orientation; judge them on their parenting skills," Zilligen
Liz DeCarlo is the former senior editor at Chicago Parent.
See more of Liz's stories here.
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